A Book and a [Big] Bird

One week left of being a 30-something…

I’m way behind on my birthday list reporting, but I will try to catch up over the next few days!

I’m working my way through the Modern Library’s top 100 novels and nonfiction books. As I was perusing the list of novels about a month ago, I noticed that there weren’t many female authors listed. So I counted…nine. NINE. Out of 100.

Harumph. So I’m reading the rest of the books written by female authors first. I finished Elizabeth Bowen’s The Death of the Heart the other day. Great title, no? It’s a lovely period piece of England in the 1930s. The main character is a sweet and innocent teenaged girl who ends up a little unhinged over a boy and a betrayal (but not necessarily the boy’s betrayal).

On May 15, I had an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my days. I was in the same room as the man who’s played the characters of Big Bird and Oscar on Sesame Street for 40 years: Caroll Spinney.

He is the subject of a new documentary, and he and his wife and the two filmmakers were in attendance on the opening night at the Brattle Theatre.

I Am Big Bird is the story of Caroll’s journey as an individual and as one of the most well-known public figures in the world (well, his puppets are). Anyone who grew up watching Sesame Street or the Muppets will love this film.

I was amazed at how emotional I became as I watched his story unfold. And I was not the only person sniffing and gasping and squealing—everyone was just as touched as I was.

To see Caroll Spinney and hear him speak was the icing on an already sky-high cake. He is in his 80s and is STILL playing these characters. Granted, they don’t have as much screen time anymore…but the fact that he is still playing them at all is mind-blowing. Being Big Bird is physically taxing to say the least. He has such a quick wit and seems to be such a sweet man.

Caroll is, in a word, amazing…as is his second wife, who is truly the love of his life. I am so glad that this film has brought this story of a puppet master to life. Caroll has brought joy to millions (billions?) of people and he deserves to be recognized. Thank you, Caroll!

Caroll Spinney
Yes, he brought Oscar with him.

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